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  • Running a Charity
Charity Governance: Second Edition Charity Governance: Second Edition

Your practical guide to charity governance

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Running a Charity


A handbook for all those involved in charity administration.

  • Published: March 2015
  • Edition: 4th
  • Format: Paperback / Online
  • ISBN: 9781784730215
  • Authors/Editors: Mark Mullen
  • Category: Charity Law
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Book printed softcover

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Running a Charity is a readable guide to the legal, financial, regulatory and practical aspects of setting up and running a charity.

It includes coverage of constitutional requirements, money and property, fundraising, and trustees. The text also contains appendices with the main documents required for setting up and running a charity, plus details of useful sources of further information.

Running a Charity explains everything that administrators and trustees need to know to run their charity in compliance with the law and regulations - and indicates when they should seek professional advice.

 An essential handbook for all those involved in Charity Administration.
  • Introduction
  • Constitutional Requirements
  • Money and Property
  • Management
  • Europe


  • Model Documents
  • Trustees Annual Reporting
  • Official Addresses
  • Helpful Organisations
  • Further Reading
"excellent ... deceptively informative ... a most important title for those running charities"
Click here for the full review
 Phillip Taylor and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers

Reviews from previous edition 

"a timely reminder of the legal implications of setting up and running a charity ... an engaging and accessible guide to the most pressing issues associated with such organisations. The language of the book is refreshingly straightforward ... it succeeds in its remit of explaining everything that administrators and trustees are required to know in order to successfully comply"
In-House Lawyer

"Clear, informative and recommended as an introduction to the subject from a legal perspective"

"Concise, readable and practical... indispensable"
Charities Guide

"will help to allay many anxieties trustees and managers may have"
Charity Magazine

"notable for its emphasis on common sense approaches on charity management"
Voluntary Voice


Forming a charity involves a number of stages. First there is the general idea, then a decision to take that idea further, a series of meetings between the promoters, followed by a period of preparation and, finally, the day on which the new charity comes into formal existence. Usually, registration (or recognition) follows soon afterwards. Anything may go wrong at any stage until the formal establishment of the charity. There are numerous pitfalls and the possibility that the promoters will disagree on the proper direction and development of the charity so that their enthusiasm for the project eventually peters out.

The first task in establishing a charity is to determine its purposes, the people who will be involved and the resources which will be available to it. This process, which may take some time, should enable a decision to be taken on the form which the charity will take. Where the charity is to be founded by an individual, a group of people or an existing organisation prepared to donate money at the outset, the classic form of declaration of trust will probably be the simplest and most convenient form of establishing the charity, since it allows the founder (or founders) a considerable degree of control. Where, however, a lot of fundraising activity is necessary and a larger number of people will be involved, it may not be practicable to proceed without building in a measure of ‘democracy’. In that case, an unincorporated charitable association may be the most appropriate and flexible legal form. If the charity is to undertake activities involving the employment of a substantial number of staff, or if it will necessarily encounter commercial risks in carrying out its work, a company limited by guarantee may be the best solution. Examples of these older three forms of establishing a charity can be found in Appendices A to D. These are English precedents promulgated by the Charity Commission for England and Wales but may be adapted for use elsewhere.

At Appendices E and F are constitutions for a form of incorporated charity called a charitable incorporated organisation, again being the versions promulgated by the Charity Commission for England and Wales. This type of charity enjoys its own corporate existence, like a company, but is regulated only by the Charity Commission and not by the Registrar of Companies. Regulations under the Charities Act 2011 prescribe the essential elements of the constitution of this type of organisation. The precedents reproduced in this book provide for two different structures. The first is a CIO with a wider voting membership and the second is a CIO where the charity trustees are the only voting members.

Some charities are established by will and it cannot be emphasised too strongly that, if this course is chosen, professional advice should be obtained before the will is made. Case law is strewn with disputes as to the effect of an ineptly drafted gift and the monies intended for charity are tied up until the dispute is resolved and may be eroded or exhausted by legal costs.

There are some other cases. Where the charity is to be a housing association, the best recognised legal form is a society registered under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 (once known as an ‘industrial and provident society’). Where the charity is fortunate enough to have substantial patronage, a Royal Charter may be sought. Occasionally, a charity will be set up by an Act of Parliament.

A certain amount of help can be obtained from specialist organisations, but it is generally advisable to seek professional advice before finalising the form of a new charity, and essential to do so if there is anything unusual in the proposals.

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